Gary John­son ................................

Fast Bikes - - CONTENTS -

Hello from the Clas­sic TT! It’s prac­tice week and I’m hav­ing a mint time rag­ging my 1982 XR69 around the Is­land’s finest rib­bon of tar­mac. It doesn’t seem two min­utes ago that I was over here cut­ting shapes on my mod­ern day su­per­bikes, but it’s all change when you get to the Clas­sic. Don’t get me wrong, these bikes are still proper fast – Bruce An­stey’s tasty YZR-500 is ca­pa­ble of over 190mph and my bike’s been through the speed trap at 178mph – but you just have to ride them a bit dif­fer­ent. My bike weighs in at around 210kg. She’s a big girl! But she knows how to work it, which is why we man­aged to go fastest on the first night of prac­tice.

I’ve not been out the top four all of prac­tice week, which is en­cour­ag­ing. A lot of the rea­son for our strong open­ing per­for­mance is be­cause we put the graft in dur­ing the build-up to the event. I man­aged to get out on my Team York Suzuki Cen­tre bike a good few times in the weeks ahead of the Clas­sic, in­clud­ing do­ing some racing with No Lim­its at Cad­well Park. I think peo­ple were a bit sur­prised when I started smash­ing 1m 34s in on the old girl, but that’s the po­ten­tial it’s got. It’s still not han­dling per­fectly, but we man­aged to dial it in pretty rea­son­ably be­fore we got here.

What we couldn’t have planned for was the ‘fast’ en­gine go­ing pop on my first lap us­ing it. I only went out to bed it in ahead of the race, but some­thing went wrong big time at the 33rd mile­stone. It was a proper sketchy mo­ment and I was lucky not to go down on my own oil. More to the point, thanks to the mar­shals be­ing so awe­some, no one else went down on it ei­ther. That was a bug­ger, but on a hap­pier note I had a good chin-wag with the mar­shals and bagged a few free sarnies – can’t grum­ble about that.

Blow ups hap­pen in racing, and although I’m a bit miffed that my num­ber one en­gine’s now a dis­tant mem­ory, I know that things could be worse. I re­ally feel for Michael Dun­lop and the Clas­sic Suzuki lads. They’ve not man­aged one whole lap of prac­tice be­tween all three of their rid­ers. It’s a re­flec­tion of what we’re ask­ing of these aged beau­ties. We’re clock­ing low to mid 120mph laps, which puts them on a par with a mod­ern day 600 around here. That’s not too shabby, if you ask me.

Still, the big­gest chal­lenge in this race is go­ing to be go­ing the dis­tance. By rights, Brucey boy should have this race wrapped up be­fore he’s even started it on that stun­ning stro­ker, but, just like the rest of us, he’s got to make it over the line all of four times. And four laps around here is enough to test any bike to its limit. Es­pe­cially those as old as these. But that’s the na­ture of the beast. It’s a worry, es­pe­cially considering I’ve now had to switch back to my heav­ily mileaged prac­tice mo­tor. But you never know your luck. I’ll fill you in on how the race goes next month.

The road to vic­tory? We sure hope so.

Davoand Gary have­been lap­pingthe Clas­sic TT up on their retroSuzukis.

Ga­zloves agood69.

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